Only one koala left at Pairi Daiza zoo after fourth death in two years
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Only one koala left at Pairi Daiza zoo after fourth death in two years

Four out of the zoo's five koalas have died in the past four years. Credit: Pairi Daiza/Facebook

The number of koalas in the Pairi Daiza zoo has dwindled from five to one after the animal park said another koala had died last month, one of several losses in recent years.

A 7-year-old female koala bear named Coco died in November of a chronic lung condition, making him the fourth of its kind to have succumbed from illness in only four years.

“Coco’s autopsy showed that she died of chronic pulmonary fibrosis” Tim Bouts, a veterinarian at the animal park, told HLN.

Last summer, the park bid goodbye to koalas Zelda and Carina, who died in the space of three weeks from different illnesses. In October of this year, the zoo announced the death of a third Koala, called Lulu.

“In the first case, it was an acute gastrointestinal problem, in the two following cases, it was the feared Koala retrovirus,” Bouts said, referring to a common disease affecting the native Australian marsupials. “Every koala is a carrier of the virus, but it does not always manifest.”

Bouts added that zoo carers were most often “powerless” against the virus, one of the leading causes of koala deaths in the wild, along with forest fires.

With Coco’s death in November, the zoo said 6-year-old Buddy is its last remaining koala, who Pairi Daiza spokesman Mathieu Goedefroy said would not be too negatively impacted by the recent deaths.

“He is not in any extra danger of the death of the other koalas,” Goedefroy said, adding: “Koalas are solitary animals, they live separately, so he will not feel lonely in his enclosure.”

Goedefroy said the zoo was looking into welcoming new koala bears into the park “as quickly as possible” as part of a partnership with animal sanctuaries Australia whereby they receive koalas in exchange for financially contributing to conservation projects.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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